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Write a Great Resume

Best Practices for Resume Format & Style

Create a modern resume. Put your best foot forward when applying online and in-person. The most important thing to remember: make it personal.

Your resume should clearly present your unique value. What makes you a great fit for this, specific job?  Work directly from the job description, each time you submit a resume.

  • Be clear.
  • Focus on things you accomplished in your previous experiences.
  • Highlight your specific skills and abilities.
  • Use the job description as your guide.

Your resume should always communicate that you are a qualified professional, even if you’re applying to be a preschool teacher. 

  • Choose a font that is easy to read. Use a standard size, 12 pt. to 14 pt. 
  • Avoid fonts like Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Curlz MT. 
  • Be consistent and sparing in your use of bold or italics. 
  • Don’t include images or photos.
  • Keep your layout simple.
  • Avoid using tables or columns in your layout.
  • Always use a left alignment for your text.
  • Avoid unusual spacing, margins, or punctuation. 

These formatting tips do more than just make your resume look crisp. They are important for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). It is a type of software that most companies use to scan your resume. Your resume is compared to the job posting and other applicants. These screening tools give priority to those it finds to be highly qualified. 

How can you get your resume noticed? 

Tailor keywords and terms from the job posting, for every application you submit. Be honest! Be sure to use phrasing from the job description, wherever possible.

For example, you may refer to your managerial experience as “managing direct reports”.  But if the job description uses the phrase “leading and directing teams” the ATS may not recognize the equivalency of your skill. 

Resume header & contact information. 


Standard resume header and one sentence summary line.


Be sure to include:

  • First & last name
  • Phone number with area code
  • Professional email address
  • Link to your professional network platform profile 
  • A single line break 
  • The title of the job you are applying to, exactly as it appears in the job posting 
  • One sentence, one line, action-oriented summary of your career.


 Pro Tip: Keep Your Resume Subheadings Short. 

Resume Skills Section example, bulleted list.

The Skill Summary is a great place to tie in keywords or skills. Use phrases specifically listed in the position description or job requirements.

  • Brings the most important information to the top of your resume 
  • Focuses on what you bring to the job

Use the long-form and the acronym for all your skills and credentials. 

  • JavaScript (JS) Developer
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Certified Trainer 

Standard resume experience example

Use the Experience section to list your information in reverse chronological order. Start from your most recent job. Work backward in time. 


Standard resume education section

In the Education section, list your information in reverse chronological order.

  • Degree or Certification – Use the long-form and the acronym. Specify if your education or degree is currently in-process or incomplete.
  • Name of Institution 
  • School Location (City, State, Country if outside of the US). 

Take Note: If you have college credentials or post-secondary education, do not list your high school information.

  • Bachelor of Science (BS): Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): Human Resources Management (HRM) 

Only list your Grade Point Average (GPA) if it is above 3.4 and you are a recent graduate


Screen shot of PDF and Word Document resume files.

Double-check before you submit!

Ask a proofreader to review your documents. Once everything is final, save two versions of your resume file. One should be the editable document (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or a similar word processing file) and a PDF version for submission online. The file name should include your First & Last name, the job title, the word “Resume”, and the current year. 

"Luke Sky, Administrative Assistant Resume, 2020” 


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